Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dream house

Last night we had friends over for dinner and a few board games.  It was a lovely evening with too much food, lots of laughter and good natured threats of "death to you all" as people lost games.

Prior to everyone arriving I had my normal pre-entertaining panic that we wouldn't have enough food.  Luckily S is quite brilliant at talking me off the ledge and of course we had heaps - we will be eating the leftovers for a week despite the fact that many people had seconds and thirds and the evening went really quite late.

The whole thing reminded me why my dream house will include a dining table to seat at least 12.  In our tiny townhouse we can crowd 6 people around our table, and I mean crowd.  With 6 people it is elbows tucked in and barely space for the salt and pepper shakers.  As a result when we entertain it tends to be fork food, the kind of thing that people can eat sitting on the floor or the couch because if we have more than 4 guests that is what happens.

My dream is a huge table that I can fill with delicious food and surround with our lovely friends - and of course by necessity the gourmet kitchen that will allow me to cook like that will have to go with it.  It will have to have really comfy seats, the kind that lend themselves to long evenings of banter and debate.  And we will eat and laugh and the house will be filled with the warmth of good company and friendship.

For now I settle with making my friends sit on the floor, but one day, hopefully not too far away, I will have that table and a house to fit it in.

What features do you want in your dream house?  Is it a pool, a grand fireplace or just a giant table like me?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

ANZAC Pancakes with caramel pears

Today is ANZAC day.  A day that we pause to remember those who sacrificed their lives during the wars that have given us the freedoms we enjoy today.

There are many traditions associated with ANZAC day.  The dawn service - a service of remembrance undertaken in the freezing pre-dawn darkness.  Games of two up - a gambling game played by servicemen during war.  The Essendon v Collingwood football match - carn the bombers!  Being able to turn your heater on without shame in Canberra - and thank god because it was below 0 last night.  And of course ANZAC biscuits.

I've written about ANZAC biscuits before, but this year I didn't make any.  A lovely colleague made a giant batch so I didn't need to.  But I still felt somewhat of a need to have something with those flavours, hence the invention of these pancakes.

The flavour is lovely and very reminiscent of an ANZAC biscuit, however the added oats makes them VERY filling - I could only eat 2, S bravely at his 3 plus my extra one.  It certainly is the perfect hearty breakfast for a cold autumn morning.

Note: you will need to start this recipe the night before to allow the oats time to soak.

ANZAC Pancakes with caramel pears

1 1/3 cups milk
1/3 cup oats
1 egg
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup dessicated coconut
butter for the pan

In a small bowl soak the oats in 1/3 cup milk in the fridge overnight.

Whisk together the remaining milk, the egg and golden syrup.  Stir in the bicarb soda, flour, coconut and soaked oats.

Heat a frying pan over a medium high heat.  Add enough butter to have a light coating over the pan and drop in large spoonfuls of the mixture.  It should make about 6 medium sized pancakes.  Fry the pancakes till golden.  You know when they are ready to turn as bubbles will appear on the top and they go golden around the edges.

Serve hot with the caramel pears.

Caramel Pears
2 pears (I prefer burre bosc)
20g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Peal pears and cut each into 12 slices.

In a small pot melt the butter and golden syrup together until bubbling.  Add the pears, turn the heat to medium low and cook, stiring occasionally to ensure they are well covered in the caramel for about 15 minutes or until soft and cooked through.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


If there is one talent I could have, it would be the ability to sing.  At best I could be described as having a limited range.  More honestly I would probably be described as one of those people who just shouldn't sing.  The only person in the world who thinks I can sing is S.  I think it is a sign that love can not only make you blind, it can make you deaf!

Despite my vocal limitations I do love to sing, but I confine myself to belting it out in the car - with the radio up loud enough that even I can't hear how bad I sound!  The thing is that despite my vocal limitations I have an amazing memory for lyrics.  I was reminded of this today as I drove around the city with the radio on.  I was listening to one of those greatest hits type stations.  I must have been in the car for over 40 minutes but I knew every word to every song.  Imagine if I could actually sing in tune, I would be karaoke champion of the world!

While that is never going to happen, those song sessions in the car do make me very happy and I think I will remain a car singer for the rest of my days!

Can you sing? And where is your preferred place for a little vocal exercise?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Winter warmers

One of the many funny Canberraisims is that you don't turn your heater on till ANZAC day.  The gorgeous mild autumn we have been having has made this fairly easy this year, however in the last week the night time temperatures have started to plunge into the low single digits.  A work colleague down from Queensland told us he was needing to wear thermals!

While my thermals are still safely tucked away in the cupboard we have started piling on extra blankets at night so today I decided that the time has come and switched our summer weight doona over to the thick duck down one.  I made up the bed with crisp, fresh linen and topped it with the swathe of light as air but warm as a cuddle down doona.

I adore our soft, fluffy, warm winter doona.  There is something incredibly comforting about snuggling down into its soft folds on a cold night. It gives off a feeling a security and safety, the kind that can protect you from the terrifying ghost in the scary move we watched last night.

Tonight we are headed out to a great party, but I'm already looking forward to coming home and snuggling in.

Are you a doona or a blanket person?  And have you put your winter bedclothes on yet?

Monday, April 15, 2013


With each season comes specific tastes.  For me, one of the defining tastes of autumn is quince.  That amazing fruit that with many, many hours of cooking transforms from a hard, bitter white inedible fruit, to a ruby red, soft, fragrant treat.  The best way to cook it that I've found comes from the lovely Heidi over at Apples Under My Bed.  I don't always have enough time to cook it for the required time so one trick I've found is that if I put it on about at about 6pm then turn the oven off when I go to bed (10ish) leaving the pot in the closed oven, the quince is perfect come morning.

The next question is what to do with my bounty.  Mostly I eat it as a treat on top of my morning porridge which takes over from muesli as the weather cools.  But quince is available for such a limited time it seems only appropriate that it should be used for a few extra treats like this upside down cake.  I made it using poached quince instead of pears in this recipe and it proved to be a winning combination.  The spice and the quince work together beautifully, making for what must be the ultimate autumn dessert.

Do you like quince and do you have any other suggestions of how I should be enjoying it this year?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Moving on ... a clock radio story

When I started high school I was given a clock radio.  From then on I was responsible for getting myself up at the correct time (with only the occasional parental nudge) and out the door in time to catch the school bus.

That same clock radio has been waking me up now for over 20 years.  It seems mindboggling to me - 20 years of faithful service.  There is nothing else in my bedroom that has been with me as long, in fact there are very few things in my entire house that have been with me so long or been so reliable.  However over the last few weeks that reliability which I have depended on so dearly has been fading.  Perhalps it felt it was doing me a favour but those surprise sleep ins have not been gratefully recieved, so today I bit the bullet and bought a replacement.

The new clock radio is a funky, compact model which can also act as a charger for my phone.  Fingers crossed it is as reliable as its predecessor but I will be extremely surprised if it is as long lived.

A new shiny resident is now taking pride of place on my bedside table, but somehow I feel a little sad that I am saying goodbye to my old clock radio.  Yes it may be just an alarm clock but it has been with me for so long it will seem very strange not to have it beside my bed anymore.

Do you have anything in your life from your childhood that you still use regularly?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Hi All. 

I've had to add captchas to the comments as I'm being slammed by spam.  I know it is a pain, personally I find them really annoying but the spam is killing me!  So apologies in advance for blurry letters and painful words.

Lisa :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Afternoon Tea

There is something truly special and indulgent about meals that have been made up simply for enjoyment.  By that I mean meals like brunch, afternoon tea and supper. 

They are not about sustenance, which is clearly indicated by the types of food we eat when having them.  Instead they are about the enjoyment of special food, time with friends and the true luxury of having both the leisure time and money to indulge in such a frivolous meal.

I recently attended an afternoon tea full of delicious treats.  Macarons, cupcakes, cakes, sandwiches, they were all there in abundance, but so was that other essential ingredient, lovely people.  We spent a couple of glorious hours feasting and chatting, catching up whilst we indulged.  It is afternoons like that which make me reflect on just how gloriously lucky I am, to live in a place and at a time where such an event is possible and even more that I am surrounded by such people who make my heart sing with their kindness, whit and love

Sunday, April 7, 2013


I've never understood the concept behind "relaxation" massages. Those gentle swishy massages that my sister gets.  When I have a massage I want someone pummeling me.  There is nothing I love more than when the masseuse actually gets on the table to attack me with knees and elbows.  Now that is what I call relaxing.

As a result I favour the various Asian style massages and am lucky enough to have a great Chinese massage place located in a nearby shopping centre.  It is a tiny hole in the wall, just two tables and a couple of curtains but by golly do the people there know how to find every knot in my muscles and work it away.

However the other thing I love about that place is that because it is so tiny you can hear all the people walking by outside in the shopping centre.  There is a constant low hum of activity but when someone walks past close you can catch 4 or 5 words of what they are saying.  With such tiny snippets of conversation you have no idea what they are actually talking about so I let my mind wander with the possibilities.

Somehow the whole experience is intensely relaxing, my muscles come out marshaled into order and my brain has been completely diverted from life's stresses to a hundred tiny fantasies.  It really is the perfect activity for a Sunday morning.

Do you like massages and which type do you prefer - relaxation or pummeling?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

And then it was autumn...

Our gorgeous old dog Bella used to make us laugh in how she would suddenly lie down.  Most dogs sniff out their spot, turn a few times, etc, etc, and yes she often did just that.  But other times she would be walking along and then just suddenly would flop down.  No preliminaries, she was just ready to sit.

Autumn arrived much like that this year.  Sure the leaves had started to turn but pretty much for the whole of March it just felt summery.  Then last Monday autumn arrived.  Everyone agreed, there was a different feeling in the air from the day before, a slight chill that you could feel despite the sun's warmth.  The leaves that had been toying with different colours suddenly went into full autumn glory and I felt a immediate desire to wear boots.

Now, a week later, there is no question that autumn has well and truly arrived.  Outside my office window the grass is layered with a thick carpet of crunchy brown leaves.  Last night was chilly enough to have us reaching for the extra doona and this morning the world was covered in a thick dew, not quite frost but almost as sparkly.

After a steady diet of salad and fruit I find myself wanting soups and stews and my giant collection of pashminas is airing out.

It really is my favourite time of year.  Warm days, cool nights, perfectly blue skies.  The city looks magnificent with all the deciduous trees.  Now the only question is when will the really cold weather arrive?  Conventional wisdom says that you don't turn the heater on in Canberra till after ANZAC day ... hmmm we will see if I manage it this year.